Restaurant Impossible - Heritage Room / Wild Cat Cafe - OPEN

Wild Cat Cafe Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible, Chef Robert Irvine visits Heritage Room Restaurant in Canton, Ohio.

Heritage Room Restaurant is run by Chef Tom Blake and is a training kitchen for high school students wanting to pursue a culinary career or to step outside of the normal classroom environment.

Tom has been running the restaurant within the High School for the past 18years.

The restaurant is open for three days a week and whilst it is supported by the school it also needs support from the public.

The cooking program is open to three groups od students, those who struggle academically, those who have discipline problems and those who are passionate about cooking.

The cost of running this is high as the equipment is expensive, needs maintenance and is costly to repair when it breaks down.

They are currently in need of two new ovens, a gas range and more and whilst the Canton School funding has maintained the restaurant they are now struggling.

The poverty rate in the area is 51% so it is important to keep it open to help provide training for and to provide job opportunities.

Robert arrives and notices that the dining room needs a lot of work. The carpets are bad, the walls need repainting and the tables and chairs are battered.

Roberts meets with Nicky Howard, director of secondary program and Tom Blake, the culinary instructor.

Heritage Room Restaurant is supposed to be a culinary program where the students learn the three areas of the industry - cooking, service and business.

The culinary program is popular with both students and teachers using the restaurant. It currently makes around $500 revenue per week but there is zero profit.

The dining area is looking so terrible because there is no money to put back to it.

Tom confesses that the students seem to begin the programme invigorated but the energy and enthusiasm levels drop later in the programme.

Nicky believes that the restaurant would offer more opportunities to more students if it generated more money.

Robert commits to them both to create a new modern restaurant and wants to meet the students.

Chef Robert met with six students; Trevor, Dakota, Robert, Leila Nicole and Michael.

They all give different reasons why they want to be a chef and explain their passion for cooking.

Robert decides to test the students skills and asks them to julienne a carrot and to properly cut an onion.

After many tears from the onion there was little in the way of knife skills shown by the students.

Robert enforces strictly that he wants to teach them technical skills so that they can be responsible for themselves in the kitchen.

He asks them to fry eggs and again the students are disappointed In how their eggs turned out.

Robert teaches them the basics of how to fry an egg but Robert notices that they need a professional gas range in the kitchen to be able to learn how to fry food.

Robert meets with his designer Taniya to discuss the renovation. He wants her to replace the carpets, tables and chairs and repaint the walls but with only $5000.

Robert wants to use the remaining $5000 of the budget to replace equipment in the kitchen.

Chef Robert asks the students to help clear out the restaurant and Robert is made the leader of the student team.

Together they come up with a new name for the restaurant and rename it to the Wild Cat Café.

The previous menu served just soup and sandwiches but Robert teaches them a new menu with the star dish of a Coriander and Mustard Seed Crusted Salmon

Next, Robert moves on to teaching the students sauces and they learn to make a crab macaroni cheese with Michael chopping herbs and Taylor making the bechamel sauce.

Robert checks in with Taniya and Tom and they are trying to be creative with the limited budget.

Robert gives the students a pep talk and cautions them that they must show passion, concentration and prove they are for the change by thinking overnight if they want to be a part of it.

The next day all six students show up, renewing their commitment to the restaurant.

Robert wants to create a buzz about the new restaurant and along with the school band they are go to the local farmers market to help promote the restaurant.

Before they leave Robert checks in with the designers and is concerned that he can’t yet see the progress and pushes them to have some progress by the time he returns.

The students promote the restaurant with T-shirts promoting the new restaurant complete with the phone number to make bookings.

From the market Robert purchases fresh corn, cabbages, peppers and tomatoes.

Robert has bought several items of equipment and they are revealed to the students when the return from the market.

The new equipment for the kitchen includes a six range gas burner, a spice grinder, a crepe machine, stick blenders, toasters, industrial mixers and commercial food processors.

The renovation in the dining room is beginning to come together and there is a beautifully handcrafted sign of "WILDCAT CAFÉ "on plywood that cost $40.

They used everyday kitchen items to transform the wall into a beautiful work of art and took out windows to create a chef's viewing area, bringing the kitchen into the dining room.

They take artistic photographs for the walls and use scraps of materials to create custom artwork.

In the kitchen Chef Robert discusses the duties for each student.

He puts Dakota on the appetizers, Trevor on the boiler and Taylor to make Sautee. Michael will assist Nicole on grill and Robert will lead the kitchen.

Whilst they are putting together the finishing touches, people are already starting to line up outside and the students back in the kitchen confess to being nervous and excited.

Eyes closed, Chef Robert gently led all staff to see the new Wild Cat Café. They were all amazed when they opened up their eyes.

Chef Robert presented each student with a chef knife as a gift and introduced Tom and Taniya to the staff.

On relaunch night, the customers were amazed at the renovation and have much praise for the new design.

The orders come fast into the kitchen and the students have a hard time keeping up.

As they start to get overwhelmed Chef Robert steps in to help and gives them a pep talk so they get back on track and the relaunch is a success.



What Happened Next at Heritage Room / Wild Cat Cafe?


They have continued with the improvements that Robert had set in place and have kept his menu.

Wild Cat Cafe is still open for lunch 3 times a week and have a special themed dinner once a month.

This episode was episode 16 of season 2 and was aired on December 07 2011

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This post was last updated in December 2020.

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